By Alyson Jordan, MPA, Communications Specialist, Public Health Preparedness, NACCHO
Today is Get Ready Day, which reminds Americans to prepare themselves, their families, and their communities for all disasters and hazards, including pandemic flu, infectious disease, natural disasters, and other emergencies. While it is important to take the time today to prepare for a disaster or emergency, Americans should be prepared all year for any unforeseen event.
Helping their communities to get ready all year long is the part of the mission of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a national network of over 200,000 volunteers in nearly 1,000 units across the United States. MRC units play a critical role in encouraging their communities to be prepared for disasters. This year, many units have come up with creative ways to mark National Preparedness Month.
So far this month, MRC units have hosted or participated in the following activities:
- The Franklin County and Columbus MRC (OH) hosted the Westerville Kids and Cops Day on Sept. 8, where volunteers passed out hundreds of packets of preparedness materials, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency activity book to children and families. On Sept. 11, 18 MRC volunteers participated in a Point-of-Dispensing (POD) Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) exercise to practice going through a VRC and getting a POD assignment.
- Triena Dietrich, MRC Coordinator for the Adams County MRC (IL), spoke about Preparedness Month and how to construct a disaster plan and prepare your family for an emergency on a local radio station on Sept. 9.
- On Sept. 15, the Uncas Health District MRC (CT) distributed preparedness coloring books to kids at a community fair in Norwich, CT.
- The Ida County MRC (IA) has their MRC volunteers writing editorials in their local paper responding to “What would you do?” questions. MRC volunteers’ responses offer tips for residents who might have to respond to scenarios including active shooters, gas explosions, loss of electricity, or severe weather.
But there are still two weeks left in National Preparedness Month! MRC units have some great events lined up for the end of the month:
- Salt Lake County MRC (UT) will raise awareness about emergency preparedness and will recruit new members at the Utah State Fair. They will also participate in a multijurisdictional exercise with the Community Emergency Response Team.
- Satilla MRC and the Ware County Community Emergency Response Team (GA) will simulate a texting and driving accident scenario. They will also use the opportunity to educate residents about disaster preparedness, and the upcoming flu season.
- The Hopkins-Muhlenberg MRC (KY) will be conducting the American Public Health Association’s Preparedness Kit Recipe Challenge to encourage citizens to think about preparedness planning, and developing emergency supply kits. Citizens will be invited to submit recipes using ingredients one would find in an emergency food supply kit.
Throughout Preparedness Month, NACCHO has been leading an MRC volunteer recruitment campaign in select markets to encourage folks to protect the health of their communities by volunteering with their local MRC unit. If you live in the San Francisco, Portland, OR, Houston, Louisville, KY, or Detroit areas, be sure to listen to your local radio networks, and you might hear an MRC unit leader speaking on the radio about the benefits of the MRC in your community.
NACCHO supports the national MRC network and encourages local health departments to partner with MRC units to enhance workforces that have been strained by budget cuts. Local health departments often partner with MRC units to supplement existing emergency medical response capabilities and public health infrastructure. MRC units help their communities prepare for a disaster and also with routine public health activities, such as vaccination clinics, public health education events, and first aid at large community events. Read NACCHO’s fact sheet, “The Medical Reserve Corps: A Valuable Asset to Local Health Departments” to discover new ways your local health department can partner with MRC units, or how to start an MRC unit if your local health department does not have one.
Does your local health department have an MRC unit? What do they have planned for National Preparedness Month? Let us know in the comment box below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.